It takes quite a lot to get shooter fans truly excited about a new military simulation these days, but the official announcement of Battlefield 3 has done just that. Many of you were likely blown away by the impressive visuals seen in the extended gameplay trailer, but as far as multiplayer is concerned, DICE has been keeping relatively quiet.

Thankfully E3 tends to bring out the charitable nature in most developers, and the minds behind Battlefield 3 are no exception. At this year’s convention, DICE was kind enough to give us a few more multiplayer details, and a chance to play it for ourselves.

The developers have talked about the emphasis placed on the Frostbite 2.0 engine and giving the guns as realistic a feel as possible, but it already seems like the multiplayer will be what truly sets BF3 apart from Modern Warfare 3.

DICE provided a few more bits of information on the unique features Battlefield 3 multiplayer will be showing off, starting with destructible environments. From breaking down enemy cover to taking down entire buildings in Bad Company 2, escalation has been key, and the stakes are even larger with BF3. This time around, players will be able to reshape entire buildings by destroying facades in an increasing dedication to a realistic urban combat situation.

Battlefield 3 E3 Hands On Preview

The developers ┬ámade it clear that they’ve been learning plenty of lessons from their community, and that has brought some significant changes to both fighter class and strategy. Multiplayer is often the most fun for those who wish to run headfirst into the action and get killed in the process, which has led to the creation of a Combat Medic class. Using this fighter, you can help out teammates while still posing a threat to enemies.

In addition, the heavy gunners are a formidable opponent when operating in tight quarters, but DICE felt that the bipod stand hanging from the front of the machine gun wasn’t being put to proper use. Now heavies can deploy their weapon at the touch of a button, increasing accuracy and allowing a single person to control an entire city street themselves.

New campaign trailers are all well and good, but seeing Battlefield 3’s multiplayer in person is something else entirely. It won’t surprise anyone for me to tell you that it looks gorgeous, but it’s difficult to say enough about the Frostbite 2.0 engine. From environment renderings to character animations, the game runs as smooth as possible with no noticeable tearing or hiccups.

The multiplayer stage provided (via PC) was from the series’ Rush mode, tasking the team of players with taking out anti-aircraft installments in a park located in the heart of Paris (good hint there of the scale of Battlefield 3‘s story). With each completed objective more of the map was revealed, with an air strike opening up a crater into Paris’ subway system, and eventually leading to a massive firefight in the final train station.

Battlefield 3 E3 Hands On Preview

The pace was fast and furious, but the moments when the team was working together and performing their own roles were not only the most satisfying, but extremely effective at scattering the opposing forces. Seeing how each class works together was an eye-opener, as DICE has added several new tweaks to the common XP system. If a machine gunner is keeping an enemy pinned down with suppressing fire when he is taken out by a fellow team member, then both the killer and the suppressor receive points.

The Engineer class is now also equipped with a flashlight mounted to his weapon, which comes in handy in the darker parts of the map. But the tool isn’t just for navigation, as it can also be used to blind enemies temporarily. This is just another instance of the biggest take-away from the experience: all of the elements of gameplay that shooters have been taking as a given for the past few years has been given a bit more depth and thought with Battlefield 3.

Medics, for instance, can revive a downed opponent as usual, but the fallen player has the choice to accept the help or not. If they choose to turn down medical attention, it seemed that the player can continue to fire with a handgun from a prone position or respawn elsewhere. Having a handful of shots doesn’t do much for Call of Duty except offer a chance for revenge, but in Battlefield 3 players were still able to be effective in battle while wounded.

We didn’t get a chance to see any buildings taken down or extensive vehicle combat, but the infantry focused map proved the obvious: DICE knows how to make a successful multiplayer experience. Our preview was only a tiny glimpse at the game, but was infinitely more approachable and conducive to teamwork than anything Call of Duty has put out in recent years.

Battlefield 3 may not have the same brand power as CoD, but if what we saw was a good indication of how the final game will approach multiplayer combat, then CoD fans would do well to try Battlefield 3 out for themselves.

We’ll all be getting a better look at Battlefield 3 when it’s released for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this Fall.

Stay tuned to Game Rant for more news on everything coming out of E3 2011.

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